Het is vandaag 25 jaar geleden dat de Frans-Amerikaanse actrice Claudette Colbert is overleden.

Claudette Colbert werd geboren als Lily Claudette Chauchoin in Saint-Mandé (Frankrijk) en verhuisde naar de Verenigde Staten rond 1906. Ze acteerde al op de middelbare school en kwam in 1923 op Broadway terecht. In 1927 speelde ze in haar eerste film “For the love of Mike”. In 1932 speelde ze o.a. keizerin Poppeia in “The sign of the cross” van Cecil B.DeMille (foto).
Two years later Claudette was charming and radiant in Cecil B.DeMille’s spectacular “Cleopatra” (1934). It wasn’t one of DeMille’s finest by any means, but it was a financial success and showcased Claudette as never before. However, it was as Ellie Andrews, in the now famous “It happened one night” (1934), that ensured she would be forever immortalized. Paired with Clark Gable, the screwball comedy was a mega-hit all across the country. It also resulted in Claudette being nominated for and winning the Oscar that year for Best Actress. On the other hand, director Frank Capra came up with the idea about the walls of Jericho because Claudette Colbert refused to undress in front of the camera. And when director Frank Capra asked Claudette Colbert to expose her leg for the hitchhiking scene, she initially refused. Later, after having seen the leg of her body double, she changed her mind, insisting that ‘that is not my leg!’ Claudette Colbert complained overigens nearly every day during the making of the film. On the last day of shooting, she told a friend niet helemaal ten onrechte: ‘I just finished making the worst picture I’ve ever made’. Constance Bennett and Myrna Loy, and three others, had already turned the script down. Claudette Colbert only accepted because Capra promised he would double her salary and she would be done in four weeks. She disliked the film so much, however, that she did not even attend the Oscars; when she won for Best Actress, she was found about to leave on a trip and was rushed to the ceremony, where she made her acceptance speech in a traveling suit.
Van 1936 tot 1944 heeft ze een radioprogramma gepresenteerd. By the late 1940s and early 1950s she was not only seen on the screen but the infant medium of television, where she appeared in a number of programs. However, her drawing power was fading somewhat as new stars replaced the older ones. In 1958 ging ze terug naar Broadway and wasn’t seen on the screen again until “Parrish” (1961). It was her final silver screen performance. Her final appearance before the cameras was in a TV movie, “The Two Mrs.Grenvilles” (1987).
Claudette Colbert was twee keer getrouwd, maar zou ook lesbische verhoudingen hebben gehad (o.a. met Marlene Dietrich). Ze stierf in 1996 op Barbados aan een beroerte.

Ronny De Schepper

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